The purpose of a resume summary, also known as a career summary, is to give your next employer a sense of not only what you can do but also who you are. This in turn gives you the opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments, think about where your career is going, and remember what makes you different from any other candidate. In short, it’s a resume ego boost!
Done right, a resume summary positively influences a hiring manager and sets the right tone for you as a candidate. In order to make sure that happens, here are five mistakes to avoid when writing your resume summary…
Don’t Drone on Forever
Just like the other components of your resume, a resume summary needs to be easily readable. Whether you use bullet points or sentences, fit them together to flow nicely.
Don’t Be Shy
If your career experiences are laced with teamwork, it’s tempting to frame those experiences in a manner that ensures you don’t take too much credit. Words such as “assisted,” “helped,” and “contributed” then start to sneak into your resume summary. But in reality, your best bet is to be bold! Use the first person and highlight your accomplishments.
Don’t Use The Passive Voice
Which of the following statements sounds better to you? A) “Was coaching a women’s soccer team when they won an international tournament” or B) “I’m a soccer coach with 20 years of experience leading teams at the collegiate, semi-pro, and professional levels. I have a proven winning track record, including the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.” Your career accomplishments are exciting and noteworthy. Surround them with active voice words!
Don’t Talk About Your Goals
The key to a good resume summary is to tout your accomplishments in the context of how they’ll help your future employer. This is because every time a company posts a job opening, it means that entity needs something. Present yourself as the right candidate to meet that need. As Jane Heifetz writes in the Harvard Business Review, “[t]his immediately tells the hiring manager that you’ve solved the same types of problems she’s dealing with.”
If the job description calls for a “leader of cross-functional marketing teams” and you have that type of experience, part of your career summary could say, “I have led cross-functional teams in successfully meeting sales quotas in excess of $5M.” It’s your accomplishment—but it benefited someone else.
And, very importantly. . .
Don’t Forget The Keywords
Although a resume summary needs to impress human recruiters, don’t forget that an applicant tracking system (ATS) will likely still scan it for the presence of keywords—and rank your resume accordingly. Use your resume summary as another way to incorporate these crucial phrases and increase your resume’s chances of beating the ATS.
To make sure you’ve got the right keywords and an appropriate usage frequency (too many keywords could get your resume penalized; too few means your application is likely to go unnoticed), run your shiny new summary and the rest of your resume through Jobscan. You’ll instantly get a personalized report that shows you which words you’re missing, which you could modify, and more.
A quality resume summary can make all the difference in a job search. Avoid these mistakes while creating yours!